Ready or not, here the vaccinations come. The United Kingdom has officially started inoculating its citizens in the fight against the coronavirus. A 90-year-old British grandmother received the honor of being the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials.
Margaret Keenan received the dose at University Hospital in the English city of Coventry at 6:31 a.m. this morning. The vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is expected to be approved for emergency use in the U.S. in the coming weeks.
According to UK National Health Services, Keenan, who turns 91 next week, felt “so privileged” to take the vaccine and said, “It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year.”
The UK is the first Western country to both approve and administer the vaccine designed to prevent the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Britain ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, which is a two-dose shot, meaning 20 million people can be vaccinated with the UK’s initial order.
The vaccine was determined to prevent people from getting sick with COVID but it remains unclear if it prevents transmission of the coronavirus. So, the UK is still recommending masks, social distancing and other mitigation strategies as the vaccine is introduced and rolled out to the masses.
The U.S. is expected to receive enough to administer the vaccine to 50 million people with its first order and will have the opportunity to purchase 3 billion doses if for some reason they would need to. The U.S. population is currently around 331 million people.